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10 African Writers You Should Know

Africans are good writers, we should be good readers too. Check out these novelists you should know

10 African Writers You Should Know

In a continent that is as diverse as Africa, it should be no surprise that the literature that has emerged from it is equally diverse.

Dealing with a range of social and cultural issues, here are some of Africa’s best contemporary writers you should know and have at least read two.

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  1. Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o is one of Africa’s most important and influential postcolonial writers who began his writing career with novels written in English. He was imprisoned without trial for over a year by the government for the staging of a politically controversial play. After his release, he started writing works only in his native Gikuyi and Swahili.

  2. Ben Okri: Ben Okri’s childhood was divided between England and Nigeria. His experience that young greatly influenced his future writing as his first two books were reflections on the devastation of the Nigerian civil war which Okri himself observed firsthand.

  3. Alain Mabanckou: Alain who is from the Republic of Congo writes primarily in French, and is well known for his biting wit, sharp satire and insightful social commentary into both Africa and African immigrants in France.

  4. Nadine Gordimer: Nadine’s works powerfully explore social, moral, and racial issues in South Africa under apartheid rule. Gordimer’s most famous and controversial works were banned from South Africa for daring to speak out against the oppressive governmental structures of the time.

  5. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Born in Nigeria, Chimamanda is part of a new generation of African writers taking the literary world by storm. Adichie’s works have been met with overwhelming praise and have been nominated for and won numerous awards, including the Orange Prize and Booker Prize.

  6. Ayi Kwei Armah: This novelist works are known for their intense, powerful depictions of political devastation and social frustration in his native Ghana and he tells it from the point of view of the individual. His most famous work, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968) centres around an unnamed protagonist who attempts to understand his self and his country in the wake of post-independence.

  7. Mariama Bâ: This is one of Africa’s most influential women authors, Mariama Bâ and she is known for her powerful feminist texts, which address the issues of gender inequality in her native Senegal and wider Africa.  Her anger and frustration at the patriarchal structures which she experienced spill over into her literature.

  8. Nuruddin Farah: This Somalia born writer has written numerous plays, novels and short stories, all of which revolve around his experiences of his native country. The title of his first novel From a Crooked Rib (1970) comes from a Somalian proverb translated as “God created woman from a crooked rib, and anyone who trieth to straighten it, breaketh it”.

  9. Aminatta Forna: Born in Glasgow but raised in Sierra Leone, Forna has written several novels, each of them critically acclaimed: her work The Memory of Love (2010) juxtaposes personal stories of love and loss within the wider context of the devastation of the Sierre Leone civil war, and was nominated for the Orange Prize for Fiction.

  10. Chinua Achebe: This is one of the world’s most widely recognized and praised writers with novels like No Longer at Ease, Things Fall Apart, A Man of the People, There was a Country to mention but a few.



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